MINOT AIR FORCE BASE The last of eight Minot Air Force Base B-52 bombers that flew to Ellsworth AFB, S.D., this week left the Minot base Thursday.
The B-52s from the Minot base’s 23rd Bomb Squadron will temporarily operate out of Ellsworth while a runway reconstruction project is being done at Minot AFB. The runway will be closed starting Tuesday.
Between 200 to 300 airmen from the Minot base also are going to Ellsworth.
Capt. Jeff M. Nagan, chief of Public Affairs at the Minot base, said the main group of airmen will leave the base Monday. They will be driving to South Dakota.
Ellsworth AFB was chosen as the host site for the B-52s because of its near proximity to Minot, which helps reduce costs and because Ellsworth has a suitable runway for the B-52 mission, base officials said. B-52s were stationed at Ellsworth for nearly 30 years before the base transitioned to the B-1s.
Lt. Col. Dave Gordon, commander of the Minot base’s 5th Operations Support Squadron, and Col. Kevin Kennedy, commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth, said the upcoming operations will be a great opportunity for airmen from both wings to train together.
Kennedy said the base expects about 10 B-52 sorties per week in addition to the normal transient traffic and B-1 operations, according to Ellsworth AFB information.
About 360 airmen and six B-52H Stratofortresses from Minot Air Force Base’s 69th Bomb Squadron are in Guam, arriving there during the week of March 3, Andersen AFB officials said.
The group is at Andersen AFB for a scheduled deployment in support of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence mission.
The 69th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron replaced the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Barksdale AFB, La., to fulfill the continuous bomber presence mission at Andersen of maintaining a long-standing deterrent capability for the Asia-Pacific region.
Andersen has hosted the continuous bomber presence since 2003, when Pacific Air Forces began to routinely deploy B-1, B-2 and B-52 bomber aircraft to Guam on a rotational basis.
Besides South Dakota and Guam, some of Minot AFB’s B-52s are undergoing normal maintenance at various places.
Several B-52s will remain at the base and will be maintained in ready status in case they are needed, Gordon said.
The Minot AFB runway project is scheduled for completion Oct. 1.